When you think of caffeine what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Is it wide eyes? Jitters? Tweaking? Pulling an all nighter?
Maybe it’s the first thing you think about when you open your eyes in the morning.
Hopefully you don’t rely on caffeine as much as my cat friend here
If you do then have no fear!
I’m here to help you break away from your caffeine dependence once and for all.
Now before I go into the 4 steps for tapering your caffeine use I want to make it very clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with drinking caffeine.
Like anything we consume, the poison is in the dosage.
Caffeine is actually a very useful (and natural) pre-workout.
It has been shown in numerous studies that with the proper dose and timing, caffeine can help to improve athletic performance.
It just so happens that coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world (excluding water of course) with over 400 billion cups drunk each year.
Other drinks like energy drinks (Monsters, Red Bulls, Full Throttle, etc.), sodas, and pre-workouts can add even more caffeine to your day.
Most of us would like to curb our dependence on caffeine but we don’t want to lose productivity or feel the dreaded caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
The good news is that it is possible to moderate your caffeine consumption to take advantage of caffeine’s positive uses while avoiding dependence.
Here is the 4 step protocol for reducing your caffeine dependence:
Step #1: Choose A 2 Week Period Of Relative Low Stress
Choosing to go on this taper during Christmas time or a business trip is probably not the best idea as tapering from caffeine can make you feel some fatigue.
Your goal should be to pick a 2 week period where you can expect relatively less stress & get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Step #2: Tally Your Daily Caffeine Intake
From the time you wake up in the morning to the time your head hits the pillow you should tally up the caffeine in everything you drink.
This includes coffees, teas, sodas, energy drinks, supplements, flavored waters, etc.
Be aware that caffeine is in a lot of drinks and thanks to unsuccessful lobbying, the U.S. Federal Government does not require caffeine content to be on the nutrition label.
A resource I recommend for finding the caffeine content of food and drinks is
Step #3: Substitute 1 Caffeinated Beverage for 1 Caffeine-Free Beverage Each Day
If you drink 2 cups of coffee per day or a cup of coffee and an energy drink per day then replace one of those with a non-caffeinated beverage.
Maintain this daily level of caffeine for 1 week.
At the beginning of the following week, replace one more caffeinated beverage with another caffeine-free beverage (or the same as the week before) and maintain that level of caffeine for another week.
Depending on how much caffeine you drink, you’ll continue to follow this protocol until your total daily caffeine intake is less than 100mg per day.
Studies show that 100mg or less of caffeine is the level at which dependency is less likely to occur.
Step #4: Maintain Low Caffeine Use Then Go Cold Turkey For 3 Days
Once you’ve been able to maintain a level of caffeine use less than or equal to 100mg per day, it’s time to cut out caffeine cold turkey for 3 days.
Research suggests that withdrawal occurs within a 3 day span after quitting for newer caffeine users and as quickly as 12 hours for regular drinkers.
If you develop caffeine withdrawal symptoms, like a gnarly headache, then your baseline dose needs to be lowered (or you can deal with the headaches and the dependency will be gone in a few days!)
Go back to step #3 and continue to taper down your consumption until you can handle 25mg per day for one week.
After that, try cutting all caffeine for 3 days and your caffeine dependence should now be history!
The time it takes to see changes in your caffeine consumption will vary on your dependence level but for the average consumer, it should take roughly 2 weeks to see your dependency dwindle.
Keep in mind what got you to rely on caffeine and try not to fall into that trap again.
Not every workday or hard deadline requires a caffeine kick to complete.
Choose to incorporate caffeine in your diet wisely so when a caffeine boost is absolutely needed you’ll get the full effects with the lowest possible dose.